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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

Reading is genuinely one of my favorite past times. As a child, I would routinely visit the library, finish multiple books each week, and use reading to successfully coax me to sleep every night. However, for the past few years, reading has sadly been pushed to the back burner for me. Relaxation time has translated to the fast-paced, time-sucking, ever-tempting entertainment on the screens at my fingertips, and I’ve resorted to the excuse that any mental energy I have should be allocated to schoolwork. It’s uncomfortable to admit, but life’s modernized transition to embracing all-consuming technology overrides distraction-free socialization, creativity, and restorative relaxation. This is the truth a lot of us are grappling with and why I am desperately attempting to close my laptop, put my phone on airplane mode, and let myself truly live. 

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Reading weaves into this more present form of life, as it is a form of active mindfulness that’s eons more beneficial (and gratifying, in my opinion) than surfing TikTok or watching TV could ever be. Reading truly feels like a form of self-care which is why at the beginning of 2021, I set a goal to pick up a book every day — after all, cracking open a book is by far the most difficult aspect of reading. I read five books in January and a few more in February and March, but once April hit, I finished the books I had been juggling and reached a lull that ended in a Breaking Bad binge. I decided to revitalize my reading habit and am so grateful I did.

Here are some reflections I have after this week. 

Just take the plunge 

Leaping into a book is the most overwhelming aspect of reading, and I definitely felt this intimidation at the beginning of my first long-haul read in over a month. However, it is essential to remember that these initial nerves will subside, and you will enjoy the process once you’re a few pages in. Designated reading time is super important if you want to make progress with a book. When I revisited reading that first time, I set a timer for thirty minutes and ended up being glued to the book for well over an hour. 

Don’t be afraid of abandoning a book

If a book doesn’t click with your interests, reading style, or mood, do not be afraid to abandon it! I have struggled through all too many unsatisfying books that take me weeks, or even months, to grind through only to foolishly remember that there are thousands of books out there that are just waiting for my eyes to skim. 

Read before bed

Winding down the day with a book is such a natural way to incorporate reading into your day that doubles as melatonin for me! Reading is also a great alternative to replace gazing at more blue light before dozing off. After reading for just ten minutes, I usually find my eyes struggling to stay open. However, if you’re using reading as a sleep guide, make sure your book is relaxing and not too much of a page-turner!

young Indian woman You\'re not like other Indians
Photo by ajjad Hussain M from Burst / Shopify
So, what have I been reading this week?! I (partially) tackled four books: Normal People by Sally Rooney, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, and Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. Four books at once may seem excessive to some, but I find that having a variety of books to choose from allows me to align any mood or time restraint to a book. I can experience the same liberty reading as I do when selecting from my various curated Spotify playlists or scrolling through my ranging “Continue Watching” list on Netflix. I also listened to Girl, Woman, Other in the form of an audiobook which allowed me to “read” while biking, thrifting, or cooking — so convenient and a wonderful alternative to boost your Goodreads collection!

If you feel drained by social media, need a holistic form of self-care, or experience looming guilt from taking a lengthy break from reading, please take this as a sign to pick up that book collecting dust in your room. Trust me, you won’t regret it! 

Honor, Editor-in-Chief of UMass Amherst HC, is a senior honors student majoring in public health and psychology, with a minor in business. In her free time, she loves to explore the outdoors on walks with her dog, listen to music and podcasts, and experiment with new recipes.
Contributors from the University of Massachusetts Amherst